Sophomore Irwin Loud is Oak Park-River Forest’s top distance runner, but he isn’t always running for the varsity.
Loud won the sophomore race at OPRF’s Gummerson Invitational Saturday at Schiller Woods. He beat the nearest competition by 21 seconds in 16:03.7, a time that would have given him fourth place in the varsity race.
OPRF’s top runner in the varsity race was senior Jordan Vear (16:14.8), who placed eighth. Junior Martin Pimentel (10th, 16:20.8) was the second runner for the Huskies, which placed fourth (81 points). Pimentel noticed the difference when Loud is not running with the varsity.
“It’s helpful when Irwin pulls us up there [at the top],” Pimentel said. “It’s helpful to have someone consistently getting up there there in a race. We’ll have him for the regional and sectional when that’s all that matters.”
Loud is being brought along slowly in his first varsity season as a cross country runner. He ran the 3,200-meter and 1,600 during track in the spring.
A few years ago, Loud was running two-mile cross country meets at Julian Middle School. He was a sprinter in the sixth and seventh grade until a teammate, Luis Montanez, suggested that Loud try cross country. Montanez is not a part of OPRF’s cross country program, but competes in track.
“High school has been a big change,” Loud said. “Track is a lot more speed work and the races are shorter. Cross country, I think is more difficult. It’s a longer distance that is tougher for me. Two miles is a good race for me. Three miles is a different style. It’s harder.”
In his biggest varsity outing of the season, Loud was 34th (15:23.8) at the Spring Invitational Sept. 20 at Detweiller Park, home of the state meet in Peoria. He was sixth in the frosh-soph race meet a year ago.
At 5-7, Loud is much shorter than many of the varsity runners in cross country.
“Cross country has a lot of taller guys,” Loud said. “I go out as fast as I can to get in a good position. The distance is getting a lot easier. I’ve practiced for the past couple of months and put in a lot of practice over the summer. I’ve put in a lot of work.”